Competition is fierce on the 5G global stage. International 5G activity is growing at a fever pitch, as vendors and service providers in technology-focused countries work on early 5G network trials and test 5G with friendly users.
The following are the four countries most likely to have the earliest and biggest 5G debuts. Although 2019 to 2020 is a likely timeframe for the first commercial 5G network, some countries are looking to jump off the starting block early as early as 2018.
5G Network Countries: South Korea
Two service providers in South Korea are vying to be first to market with a 5G network. SK Telecom has acquired spectrum in the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz frequencies in anticipation of deploying 5G. Meanwhile, Korea Telecom made a splash in early 2017 with its announcement that it would roll out a trial 5G network ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. The trial network is expected to cover events in Bokwang, Gangneung, Jeongseon, PyeongChang, and Seoul.
5G Network Countries: China
China is also expected to be a fast-mover in 5G. The GSMA estimates that by 2025 China will represent 40 percent of global 5G connections. According to a study from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the research arm of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), 5G could account for 3.2 percent of China’s entire GDP in 2025, generate 8 million jobs, and add 2.9 trillion yuan in economic value by 2030. As hungry consumers demand more and more 5G services, the country expects a huge increase in the number of new companies, employment opportunities, and equipment sales.
5G Network Countries: Japan
Japan is mobilizing its communications industry in the hopes of being among the top 5G network players. According to Nikkei Asian Review, NTT DoCoMo and Sohgo Security Services demonstrated an advanced security service based on 5G network technology to determine the effectiveness of the service in handling security for the opening ceremonies of the 2020 Olympics. The trial involved the use of artificial intelligence (AI), a drone with an HD 4K camera, and smartphones.
5G Network Countries: The United States
The United States has some advantages in the 5G network race. Namely, the U.S. already has a lead when it comes to existing 4G networks, thanks to spectrum holdings and the use of unlicensed spectrum. The United States also leads the way in spectrum efficiency, permitting the repurposing of broadcast spectrum for broadband. However, the United States also has disadvantages slowing it down in the 5G network race between countries. Local and municipal governments hold zoning authority over cell towers and base stations, which can slow down authorization — a potentially bad sign for 5G, which will be characterized by a dense network of small cells.
However, the FCC voted unanimously last year to open nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum for mobile, flexible, and fixed-use wireless broadband for the 5G future. Numerous vendors and providers are clamoring to make the most of this advantage by launching new trials in more markets with friendly users.